Forget crossing your fingers and hoping for the best when it comes to getting your child into that brilliant academy down the road: make sure you don’t miss the nice little social event it organises for prospective parents.

News today that academies have been getting around the strict code on admissions with a bit of “game-playing” may not surprise, but does depress a little.

The report, Unleashing Greatness, by the Academies Commission, says some academies have been using “covert selection” procedures.

Schools aren’t allowed to interview prospective parents, so what better than to invite them for a chat over a glass of Sauvignon Blanc to get a good look at the sort of families you might be inviting into the school fold.

The report suggests some academies are finding ways of eliciting more information on parents than permitted by the code.

Every little helps when you’re trying to get the right pupils to make sure the school gets the right results.

When academy schools were first introduced by Tony Blair his vision was clear: transforming education for the most disadvantaged. Poor performing schools given freedom – and often huge amounts of money – to transform the lives of children being “let down” by the education system.

Read more: Academies ‘covertly select’ privileged pupils

One argument is that the schools which have done well become so popular that some form of secret selection becomes an inevitable consequence.

The commission now wants academies to publish socio-economic data about who applies and who is offered a place.

And just in the interests of balance, let me say many schools outside the academy family aren’t covered in glory either.

They may stick to the selection process rigidly, but all the evidence about how inadequate education can be for some of the poorest children in society shows they’re not managing to level the playing field either.

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